Title: How Soon Is Now?
Author: darkbardzero
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairings: Emily Prentiss/Jennifer Jareau
Ratings: PG-13/15
Disclaimers: All things Criminal Minds belong to people other than me. I just write stuff
Author's Notes: Erm…yeah okay…don't ask me where this came from. It's not really a usual thing, I guess. It's just an idea that wouldn't leave me alone, and after some polishing and dusting, apparently it's good to go. I'm not so sure, personally, but I'm the bitch of 2 very scary girls, lol!

Thank You: As always, SofiaLindsay for doing the beta thing and calming me down during freak outs and kicking my ass when needed. The same goes to LeilanniL who has had to talk me round a few times! I'm a chore, so thank you muchly.

Despite her hardest efforts, getting out of work on time was a difficult goal to achieve for Jennifer Jareau. Long ago she had accepted that she had a messy job that held messy hours. She had also accepted that she was pretty much on call twenty-four-seven too. She did it because she had to. And she was devoted to her job. Devoted to the cause, to making sure that her side of what she and her team did ran smoothly. The cogs were oiled, making it easier for them to do their jobs.

She took care of the paperwork, the red tape, the fat cats of the FBI who had either never been out in the field or had been so long ago that they didn't remember, who all demanded explanations and often scrutinized both her and her team's decisions. She handled every query that came to the BAU, every email and phone call. Every request.

She spoke to the Sheriff's, the Detectives and Inspectors. The distraught family members. She played ringmaster to the press, fielded their constant questions and controlled the flow of information that came in and out of this unit. The unit she loved. She was aware of every single Agent in her unit; from the primary team that she worked alongside with to the junior Agent's fresh out of the Academy that did the basic things that the profilers didn't have time to do. She was aware of each of those Agents' specialties, and assigned the cases appropriately. Causing her to have to read every single detail of every single case. One horrific murder after another. One disturbing child molester after another. One harrowing rapist after another. It never stopped. But she handled it.

She handled the pilots of the jet, handled the booking of hotels and other means of travel if it should be needed. She handled each everyday person that her team could offend when they had tunnel vision, and weeded information out of them when they clammed up, because she was the sensitive one. And she still ran with the investigation, contributing, asking questions, being right there in the field. And during each case, she never knew what else would be required of her. Protecting a witness. Raiding houses. Organizing searches. Whatever it was, she did. Because she was devoted.

With everything asked of her, JJ did her best to step up to it. For all of this to be placed on a relatively young Agent, she knew she had to prove herself. It had come as a shock to her, being given the responsibility of being the BAU's liaison so early. Sure she had flown through school and college with ease. Had excelled in the Academy. JJ had worked hard to gain her high grades. Still, she had been a fresh-faced green Agent with barely an introductory period to her position before the old one had bailed. He had been an odd man. The look of him still made her shudder. Because she had seen through his eyes that his soul had cracked, haunted by the things he had been forced to see day in and day out. That sure had been a welcoming and encouraging realisation. Right then JJ had questioned herself relentlessly on whether she was capable of this. Because deep down, under her complications and depths, she was still Jennifer Jareau from a rural farming town in Pennsylvania. Third child to Michael and Edith Jareau, blacksmith/farmer and housewife respectively.

But she had coped. Because she was devoted. And she soon found herself warming to the people around her. Soon found that she was capable, could take on this responsibility. She found that she was damn good at her job, and that one person could change a lot. Also with her individual contribution, the unit actually functioned better. The people even responded better, because her being there lifted their spirits. Because she knew how to relate to people. That was her thing. She had always been a people person. Handled them well. It was in both stark contrast and irony then, that she actually kept people at a sufficient distance that was both comfortable and heartbreaking.

Jennifer Jareau just did not let a lot of people in. And over the course of the past 5 years, 3 in the BAU, she had shut her borders even tighter, kept them under constant guard should they be tempted to even try and let anyone else in. Not only because of her job. But because she didn't think she could take another personal blow like the previous two. She was done. So she reduced her life down to the basics. Her job of course, and the only thing that could override her devotion to it.

''I'm home.''

Today was one of the days when she had won the battle to escape work on time. Practically on the dot, she mentally added. It had though, required her to bring some of her work home with her, but JJ was prepared to make that sacrifice. She would much rather be pouring herself over case files in her home than in her secluded little office. An office which was full of death and misery, whereas her home was full of life and happiness.

Smirking as she felt the muscles in her body begin to relax, JJ shut the front door before tossing her keys into an old wooden bowl on the small hallway table that also homed a lamp and a picture of her with her older brother and sister, along with her younger sister. Taken two months ago at the family's monthly get together that she always tried her best to make. She had missed the one after. Had instead been searching South Carolina for a killer that liked to embalm his victims after snapping their necks and playing house with them. Even the rest of the team had been freaked out when they had located the house of horror, finding five victims all posed in different positions, as though they were a family. It had been a particularly grim case. One that had also been startlingly and disturbingly ironic to JJ, considering she was supposed to be back home right then. It had been the night that she had tried to drink away the ghosts of that case with Emily, Morgan and Garcia, resulting in her calling her Mother at an ungodly hour and crying her apology for not being there. Using alcohol to drink away the monsters they were left with was something JJ rarely did. An after work drink, a night out or something like that was different. Purposely setting out to get plastered because the image of the dead was burnt into the back of your head was another. It was a path that none of them could afford to let themselves go down.

JJ shook off those memories as she put her briefcase down next to the table, letting herself relax and for the meanwhile, switch off from her job. The strikingly beautiful twenty nine year old Agent left Agent Jareau at the door and immediately stepped in to the only other role that she loved more.

''Mommy, Mommy!''

Although, she did use her FBI training to brace herself for the hyper blonde smudge that came hurtling toward her. JJ never tired of having that reaction. No matter how exhausted she was, how hard she had hit rock bottom with a case, she always appreciated what she had, right here. And that was family. It was love, pure and unconditional. The delight in her daughter's voice was the best drug in the world. It even beat coffee.

Without missing a beat, JJ reached down and swooped up the excited five year old into her arms. Immediately, the little girl wrapped herself around her in a tight hug, one that she returned, wrapping her arms around her both lovingly and protectively. And she sighed. Out of relief, out of love, out of having something so precious to anchor her down and give her life a meaning and purpose so entirely different from what she did. She was a Mother. She loved being a Mother.

''Oh my baby girl, I missed you today.''

JJ held her daughter close, one hand moving to stroke through soft blonde hair. Her blood, her flesh. Her angel. It had never been her intention to get pregnant, especially at the ass end of FBI training. She had freaked at first, having been sent into a complete tailspin. She thought her future plans were over. Thought she would have to tell the FBI 'actually, thank you but no thank you'. Until she had been forced to calm down by her older sister, who had been the one she had ran to.

Meredith had a way of making things better. At boiling things down so they were less intimidating. JJ often mused it was a trait she had learnt from their Mother, and in fact, she had learnt it too. There were just certain times that JJ had the inability to use the quality on herself. That had definitely been one of those times. She remembered her sister calming her down, telling her everything would be fine. Of course the first question was on whether JJ wanted this baby, and she had been surprised at herself for instinctively and immediately saying yes. Without a doubt she did, despite having never thought about children before. While her brother and sister had both settled down and had started families by that point, JJ had been all about school and her following career. But there had never been another choice for her.

It had been difficult of course, finishing the last weeks of training and preparing for a child. But in her way, she had stepped up to the challenge. Decided that she didn't need to change her plans, she could be a parent and still take her offered place at the Bureau. So she had, and she had never looked back on either decision. No matter how hard things had been. She didn't regret a single day. Amelia Hermione Jareau was the best thing she had ever done.

''I missed you too Mommy.''

JJ smiled, letting Amelia shift in her arms and readjusting her hold on her so that she was carrying her daughter at her side. Making sure it was her left side, of course. Considering her gun was attached to her right. It struck her sometimes, that if someone were to take a picture of her in these moments, together with Amelia, they would capture something that spoke volumes.

The hard working, devoted Agent with a steely resolve yet pure of heart. Stood in her professional attire, smart yet stylish. Today a black suit with a crisp white shirt, hair down smartly. Badge in her pocket, gun on her hip, cuffs at her back. Today she was the stereotypical looking Agent. Yet, with all of that, with her hardware safely attached to her, she wasn't just an Agent. She was a Mother. Having her daughter safely secured to her hip, and everything about her gentle and loving. Taking care of an innocence that she never wanted to see break.

Amelia was all pink ribbons and teddy bears, smelt like a 5 year old should and fresh air, soft and sweet. Everything in contrast to where JJ had arrived home from. One place so horribly harsh and hard, the other soft and loving. Which was why she drew a rather distinctive line between her home and her work. Sure they had to crossover. She brought work home, but she never let Amelia see it. She never visited the things she saw on her daughter. Amelia just knew that Mommy had an important job to do helping people. Aside from that, she didn't need to know. JJ desperately fought for her daughter's childhood, because she deserved it. Because she had a right to it. And because she had seen so many kids have it ripped away from them.

''Oh yeah? How much?''

JJ watched in unadulterated fascination as her daughter thought for a minute. Found herself smirking as she bit her bottom lip lightly as a thoughtful crease made its way down Amelia's beautiful face. The cogs could be seen to turn through crystal clear blue eyes as they concentrated in that adorable way that kids concentrated. Possibly one of the cutest things JJ had ever witnessed. And she witnessed it a lot. Amelia was a curious girl. She was smart, wanted to know everything. JJ was still having trouble accepting her little baby was starting school in August, having just turned 5. Which was probably going to be harder on her than Amelia.

''Hmmm...this much!''

JJ's hold compensated for the quick movement Amelia made as she jerked backward, animatedly throwing her arms as wide as they could go, a huge grin gracing her features as bluer than blue eyes danced. Everyone always commented on how much the little girl looked like her, a spitting image. Garcia had quickly dubbed her 'Mini-Jayj', and of course, the name had stuck. JJ laughed, leaning in quickly to kiss Amelia repeatedly as she tickled her lightly, making her squeal.

''Still not as much as I missed you! Tell me what you did today, sweetheart. Did you have fun?''

JJ felt the day she had spent in an inordinate amount of meetings, facing the press and hunching over countless of crime scene photos and disturbing details start to slip away from her. It was Friday, and unless an extremely urgent case came crashing into the weekend, the blonde was both relieved by and looking forward to two whole days of uninterrupted time with her very excited daughter. She longed for that time, often wondered if she were doing the right thing in juggling such a heavy career and her Motherhood. Felt guilty for those nights that she was across the country somewhere, and all Amelia wanted to do was hug her Mommy after a bad dream.

But she also knew thinking like that could drive her slowly crazy. Today, in the very least, she decided to keep those thoughts at bay. Decided to let the vibes of her home relax her, lull her into a comfortableness that she could only feel by being somewhere she felt happy in. And she certainly did here; in the house she had made for Amelia and herself. It was full of life and energy, cozy and lived in. A home you could without a doubt tell had a child living there, right from the atmosphere, to the toys, the pictures and the growth lines that were drawn into a special plate of wood every birthday and christmas to see the progress. It was a happy home, with still a sense of JJ's own individuality too.

''Had fun Mommy went swimming but one of my armbands got broked so got new ones they's pink with yellow daises and we fed the ducks and went shopping, and I dropted my ice cream...''

Obviously delighting in the chance to talk about her day, Amelia set off at an extraordinary pace of speech that had taken JJ a little adjusting to when her daughter had began to talk. Some of her words ran into each other, in her enthusiasm to get them out. Like if she didn't quickly enough, the words and thoughts would disappear. In her rush she blurted out obviously the most significant things she had remembered about her day, but in absolutely no particular order. JJ already knew that Amelia had been taken to the park, but she also knew she went in the morning, before she had been taken swimming. Still, it didn't matter. All that did matter was that she was encouraged and supported. She was a kid, after all. Just a little five year old girl, excited enough to be practically bouncing in her arms.

This was how she was supposed to be. How she was supposed to talk. JJ hoped that Amelia would never loose that sense of enthusiasm, that innocence and curiosity. It was all too precious. But some people did keep it. She had some herself, as did some of her friends, family, her team even somehow managed to keep some. Reid in particular.

''...but the nice lady gots me 'nother one.''

Amelia finished off, smiling brightly as she started to loose momentum because her focus was now being diverted to one hand playing with her Mother's hair as the other fiddled with the simple silver necklace JJ had worn today. The blonde was highly amused how something shiny could distract her daughter. The same was very true of Garcia. Shiny or fluffy. Whereas it usually took something smothered in chocolate for Emily, and something very caffeinated for her.

''Did you say thank you?''

Amelia nodded quickly, over emphasizing her nodding motion as she did.

''Good girl.''

JJ placed another kiss on Amelia's head before moving off down the hallway and through the house. Instinctively, she knew that her sister would be in the kitchen. And considering there was music floating from there, it gave her a pretty big clue.

Now 23, the youngest of the siblings, Lauren, was definitely a huge help. She had moved over to D.C to go to college, after taking in her big sisters footsteps and earning herself a scholarship, though for her it was running track. Lauren had taken a major in English literature, and was now attending grad school to work her way into teaching. She was a godsend as far as helping out with Amelia, especially when JJ had to go out of town for a case. And she was extremely grateful to her sister for that.

''Oh oh, you're home early, great! I can go!''

JJ had barely stepped into the kitchen and opened her mouth to speak before she was spotted, and Lauren became a motion of movement. The youngest Jareau had very similar features as her older siblings. Clear blue eyes, sunshine blonde hair and pretty features. She had been leaning on the cooking island centre kitchen, flipping through a magazine. Now however, she was in a state of flurry, which made JJ smirk slightly.

''Hello. Nice to see you too! Got a hot date or something?''

JJ retorted playfully, lifting an amused eyebrow as her sister turned every which way to get her stuff together. Lauren looked over, grinning widely, indicating her response. The devilish look made JJ smirk wider and raise the other eyebrow.

''With that basketball guy?''

Lauren paused in gathering her things together to look toward JJ and level her with an admonishing look and sigh. She then tutted with a roll of her eyes.

''JJ, his name is Warren. You're an FBI Agent, you'd think you'd remember his name and stop calling him Basketball Guy!''

Lauren berated, making JJ grin in rebellion, although she tried to bite it down as not to get her ass chewed even more. But all she could think was how cute it was to see such a cool headed woman become a little whirlwind of fluster as Lauren flapped around the kitchen. Granted, she had had a crush on this guy for a little over a year. But he had been dating someone, and had become single a little over three months ago. Lauren had been the picture of self-restraint; most of her friends had already thrown themselves at this guy. But Lauren had been his friend. It spoke a volume about her, in JJ's eyes. And even though she hadn't had chance to meet and interrogate him yet, JJ had hoped that he would be able to see that he could have a really good thing.

''Yeah yeah. So when do I get to meet Warren?''

Lauren scoffed, turning toward JJ once more now that she had collected her things.

''What so you can terrify him with your gun and steely gaze and basically threaten to kill him? No no, not happening again. You almost made the last one wet his pants!''

JJ grunted at the memory, remembering very well what she had said to Lauren's last choice in boyfriend. A little smarmy toad of a guy, which had surprised her seeing as Lauren had a much better sense and taste than that. But as soon as she met him, JJ heard the alarm bells go off in her head. And after the first time he had messed her little sister around, she had had words with him that might have been strictly considered threatening someone's life. But she didn't care. Big sisters prerogative.

''He deserved it Lauren, he was a snake.''

She pointed out quickly, a slightly firmer tone edging into her voice though she did try to let it remain soft. She wasn't trying to have a go, or coax the younger blonde into an argument. But she did want to make it clear that she had been in her right to threaten someone so harshly. All her life she had been protective of her family, but since Lauren was the youngest, everyone was even more so with her.

''Well this one isn't, trust me. And hey, I'm surprised you remember what a date is. Seriously JJ, get back in the damn saddle.''

Instantly knitting her eyebrows together, JJ stepped around her sister and toward the fridge, feeling her barriers shoot up so quickly it almost gave her whiplash. She didn't like being provoked, especially about this. Especially not after a day like today, and especially not in front of her daughter. Amelia still happily sat in the comfort of her arm, at her side. And that's all she wanted to do right now, concentrate on her child. Forget everything else. Which included the motto she had retained, forsaking relationships.

''Don't start Lauren; I so don't want to hear it right now.''

Though her family, many of her friends, wouldn't let her forget that. Continually pointed out that she should at least try. But she always shut them down, closed up. That was her way. Fantastically private, pushing people away when it suited her so she didn't have to hear things like this.

''I know you've been hurt JJ, but closing yourself off isn't the answer. Especially if there's someone you want to act on your feelings for.''

JJ sighed, rubbing her forehead slowly as Amelia continued to play with her hair. That definitely wasn't what she had wanted to hear. Tipping her hand to Lauren and indicating that there was indeed someone in the picture that she liked, was seriously not a good idea. Because it gave her sister something extra to latch onto. Gave her a reason to really start pushing her. And she did, every chance she got. She had also let Meredith and her brother Alex into the information. Now JJ was just crossing her fingers that it didn't spread to her parents.

''You're going to be late. Thank you for today.''

Lauren sighed, knowing she had been effectively and efficiently cut off. JJ was an artist at doing that, and usually in the most polite of ways like she just had. But there was no mistaking the tone in her voice. The look in her eyes. The conversation was over, when it really hadn't even begun. Still, Lauren knew that it wouldn't stop her. She would persist in trying to get her older sister to open up and see that she was hurting herself more than anyone else could get chance to. Especially when there was someone she had eyes on. Walking forward, she placed a quick kiss on JJ's cheek.

''Think about it, please. I hate seeing you so cut off.''

The smaller sister whispered, before stepping back and grabbing Amelia's face in her palms and planting a huge kiss on her forehead, making her giggle.

''Bye bye munchkin! Love you both.''

As Amelia continued to giggle softly as she waved her Aunt goodbye, JJ watched Lauren head out, grabbing an apple from the bowl on the island as she did. Despite herself, she smiled lightly. She did love her sister. And she knew that Lauren was only worried about her. But JJ knew what she was doing. She knew that this was best for her, and therefore best for Amelia too. She had her to think of too. So this was best. Reducing the risk of pain, for both of them. At least, that's what she kept on telling herself.

Letting out a slow breath, JJ forced the thoughts out of her head. And tried to force the images of Emily out of her head too, with little success. JJ had considered herself to be doing fine, until Emily Prentiss had come along. Had been going along smoothly, okay with the fact that she was single. It hadn't bothered her. With no one in the picture, it had been easier. Emily had been her downfall. Because Emily was beautiful. Emily was smart, and sexy, and thoughtful. Emily was adorably geeky, nicely confident and dryly humored. Emily was loyal, and compassionate, and a million other things. And JJ knew that she had never stood a chance, despite not having known her for very long. Because Emily was also a whirlwind, a force to be reckoned with. There was no resisting her. Only she had to. Because Emily was her friend. Her colleague. A woman that had given her no indication that she swung her way, or would be interested even if she did, despite all their flirting. And even if it could be, JJ still had her hang up on getting involved. In putting her heart on the line yet again, only to have it stamped on, yet again. And she didn't know Emily well enough to know if that would turn out to be the case.

''Well kid, it's just you and me.''

Of course Amelia didn't notice the saddened look in her Mother's eyes. Just instead saw her Mommy, who she loved and knew loved her. And she grinned widely, lunging forward again so that she could engulf her with another hug. And JJ sighed slowly, closing her eyes briefly as she held her daughter. The little girl she held in her arms was enough. As long as she had her, she would always be okay.

It was a couple of hours later, after she had gotten changed and she had settled down with Amelia, that JJ sat on the side of the bed. Surrounded by teddy bears and toys, fluffy contraptions and all kinds of pictures. Of dolls and little girl collectables. A brightly coloured but not over garish bedspread that engulfed the tired five year old.

They had chatted together for a little while, with Amelia explaining the rules in a new game she had learnt from her friend. As JJ had gotten herself some dinner, she had given Amelia some supper. After giving her a bath, JJ had let Amelia choose a short film to watch, and she had settled on the couch with her snuggled up to her. Yet again watching one of the many cartoons that Amelia loved so much. Which was okay, because it let her mind really switch off, indulging in the feeling of being totally comfortable, and having Amelia cuddle into her, slowly getting sleepier and sleepier until JJ had picked her up and made her way upstairs.

But of course, the movement had woken her up a little bit, so as she had been laid down in bed gently, she had muttered a request to be read to. And JJ had been all too glad to oblige, seeing as it was one of her favourite things to do. So she had picked up Fantastic Mr. Fox and began reading from where she had last left off. Until Amelia had finally slipped into a peaceful slumber.

JJ honestly didn't know how long she had sat and watched her for. Watched the little movements, the steady rise and fall of her chest, the twitches of her fingers. She looked so angelic. So peaceful. And so small and fragile. Part of JJ wanted Amelia to stay a kid forever, so she didn't have to grow up and see the world for what it truly was sometimes. She didn't want her to suffer any heartache, be put through the ringer with problems. But she also knew, was absolutely sure, that her daughter would be capable of handling it all.

''God I love you so much. You're the best thing that ever happened to me.''

Still now, after five years, JJ got blown away. It could happen a lot, in simple moments like these. When she could just watch Amelia. She had always been proud of her. Always felt blown away by her. She was something so special and unique. Something she had made. And she was beautiful. There was nothing JJ wouldn't do for her. She would sacrifice anything, give anything, do anything. Because at the end of the day, Amelia was her life. She was the most important thing to her, the be all and end all. She loved her more than anything else.

As long as her daughter was happy, that was all that mattered. She came above everything else, because that was how it was supposed to be. JJ was willing to hand over her life if she had to, walk across fire. Was willing to deny herself what she desired to have with Emily, even if the brunette offered it to her, because her daughter came first. Her siblings' musings on that if she was happy, Amelia would be happier didn't ring true. Right?